Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
Media
image of Bee Fly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 800 species in North America
Description
Resembling bees, or sometimes big, fuzzy mosquitoes, bee flies are a family of true flies and are not bees at all. Lacking the ability to sting, their bee mimicry helps them avoid many would-be predators.
Media
image of greenbottle fly on carcass
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 84 species in North America.
Description
Many blow flies are so shiny and colorful they’re called greenbottles and bluebottles. But pretty as they are, it’s hard not to be repulsed by their larval diets.
Media
Photo of a female scorpionfly perched on a leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Panorpa spp.
Description
Male scorpionflies will make you look twice, because the abdomen is tipped with what looks like a scorpion stinger! These nifty insects cannot sting, however.
Media
image of a Feather-Legged Fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trichopoda spp.
Description
Feather-legged flies are a genus in the tachinid fly family. They are beelike and have a feathery fringe of hairs on their hind legs, resembling the pollen basket of honeybees.
Media
image of a Flower Fly on a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 900 species in North America
Description
Harmless flies and valuable pollinators, flower flies are incredibly convincing mimics of bees, wasps, and yellowjackets. Recognize them as true flies by their single pair of wings, short antennae, and flylike compound eyes.
Media
Side view of longlegged fly, Condylostylus, perched on a wooden railing
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The longlegged flies are a large, diverse fly family. They often have eye-catching metallic green, copper, bronze, or blue bodies and long legs. Their delicate wings are often clear and look iridescent in bright light, but many species have dark marks near the wing tips.
Media
Photo of a robber fly, genus Ommatius, perched on a wall.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ommatius spp.
Description
Ommatius robber flies are medium-sized robber flies with distinctively branching antennae. There are about four of five species that might occur in Missouri.
Media
Tachinid fly visiting a mint flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,350 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Tachinid flies are one of the largest families of flies. They are parasitic flies whose larvae are parasitoids of other insects. They look a lot like house flies, blow or bottle flies, wasps, or bees. Many are very bristly.
Media
Peacock fly resting on a thistle leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Tephretid fruit flies, in the family Tephritidae, are often called peacock flies for the intricately patterned, often brightly colored wings of many species.
Media
Photo of a picture-winged fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 130 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Named for the ornate color patterns on their wings, picture-winged flies are small or medium-sized flies whose larvae often feed on decaying materials. If you have a compost heap, you will probably see these flies.
See Also
Media
Photo of a Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cisseps fulvicollis
Description
The yellow-collared scape moth is more often “orange-collared.” And whether you think it looks more like a firefly or a wasp, it’s still a moth!
Media
image of Plume Moth on blade of grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 150 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Slim, delicate plume moths are instantly recognizable by their T-shaped silhouette, long legs, and muted shades of tan and brown. It can be hard to separate the various species.
Media
Photo of an Isabella Tiger Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrrharctia isabella
Description
Not many people know the adult Isabella tiger moth when they see one, but we’re all acquainted with its caterpillar, the woolly worm, or woolly bear.

About Land Invertebrates in Missouri

Invertebrates are animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and arthropods. Arthropods—invertebrates with “jointed legs” — are a group of invertebrates that includes crayfish, shrimp, millipedes, centipedes, mites, spiders, and insects. There may be as many as 10 million species of insects alive on earth today, and they probably constitute more than 90 percent all animal species.